I first came across Dutch Small’s collection of mid-century modern furniture on Fab.com. When I learned how successful the e-retailer has gown in the past few years, I wanted know how furniture—the kind of product that needs to be experienced (or so I thought)–can enjoy the successes recorded by Fab.com. So I asked the brains and power behind Forma Revivo, about the milestones that have lead to his success, his thoughts about selling excellent modern design at retail (not long ago such furnishings were available only through showrooms that cater to the design trades), his grandfather, and Elvis. With his new gallery about to open in Houston in May, I felt it was time for Dutch to share the secrets of his success.
Susan S. Szenasy: Dutch, I read that your interest in mid-century modern furniture began when you worked as a conservator. What was the first piece you fell in love with and why?
Dutch Small: I was raised in a creative environment by skilled conservators and successful artists. My mom is an accomplished carpenter. My grandfather did masterful furniture conservation work for Elvis. My grandmother did beautiful trompe l’oeil and worked for decades to perfect her gilding skills. I didn’t realize the value of being reared in an environment with very high skill, standards, and unmatched artistic integrity until about four months after I started working in the business full time. We found a desk by James Mont on which the original, very intimidating silver leaf finish was destroyed. Fortunately we work with modern design where restoration, if done well, does not diminish the value of an important work. I launched into the restoration and meticulously recreated the finish, sent the piece to auction, and at $20k, outsold any previous Mont desk. I fell in love with the piece as I took two years of decoding and tirelessly recreating to get the finish right! Its results at auction were affirmation that the skills I brought to the table were sufficient to satisfy the most discriminating collectors at the most influential modern design auction house. (more…)
Phoenix (November 24, 2010) – Our favorite “small, but in the middle of it all” 6.6-square mile Southwest Valley city of Tolleson broke ground on a catalytic new landmark redevelopment project on Tuesday. City leadership sees the potential of other future downtown development opportunities to follow suit.